Violetta Grudina has for several years led the local Murmansk office of Aleksei Navalny. Photo: Atle Staalesen

A sharp regime critic flags her candidacy in Murmansk election

On the day that she announced her candidacy in the Murmansk City Council election Violetta Grudina found her office door painted with a swastika and her mail box stuffed with accusations of child abuse.
April 12, 2021

Grudina has long been a relentless critic of the political establishment in Murmansk, and on April 9th announced her intention to challenge the regime in the upcoming local vote.

That very same day, someone poured some kind of foam in front of her office and painted a swastika on the door. Her mailbox was stuffed with leaflets that warn against her candidacy.

“In our quiet northern town has come a group of bandits that seek to bring our kids into homosexuality and other indecencies,” the leaflet reads.

“Lets together protect this city against this filth,” the unknown sender adds.

 

 

Two days later, police took action against Grudina’s co-worker and campaign leader Aleksandr Surinov. When the young man arrived in the Murmansk Airport, he was detained and accused of carrying illegal drugs.

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Aleksandr Surinov heads the election campaign of Violetta Grudina. Photo: Grudina on Twitter

He was soon released after police officers failed to find any irregularities in his luggage.

“Why all of this?” Grudina asks on her Twitter account. “It is because I have decided to run for a seat in the town Council,” she herself explains.

“This is not only dirty tricks from the authorities, it is deliberate sabotage,” she adds in another tweet.

The local police has also pressed charges against Grudina, accusing her of vandalism after someone late fall 2020 wrote “Putin is a killer” on a public art installation. Police suspects Grudina of being behind the inscription, but she rebuffs accusations.

The 30-year old politician and activist is well familiar with repression and crackdown by the authorities. For years she has led the local office of Aleksei Navalny and headed a long series of street rallies.

 

Violetta Grudina in 2018. Photo: Atle Staalesen

 

In July 2017, a local Navalny office was opened in the far northern Russian town, and Grudina and her colleagues subsequently faced severe harassment from law enforcement authorities. She has stood trial in several cases and gotten several hundred thousand rubles in fines.

When Aleksei Navalny was poisoned with illegal nerve agent Novichok during a campaign trip to Siberia in August 2020, Violetta Grudina took to the streets of Murmansk in a quiet single-person protest.

She was subsequently charged by local police.

 

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